As we look back on an amazing college football season that saw the College Football Playoff rankings change time and time again, one memory of the year includes seeing coaches and staffs feverishly working the sidelines and booths to pull off that next big win.
The season saw a lot of discussion about the addition of new and specialized professionals to the coaching and support teams throughout college football, including the use of “analysts,” highly specialized position and skills coaches, expanded support staffs and other related positions.
Whatever one’s personal stand might be on the trend of football and other college sports becoming more prominent, more complex and more thoroughly staffed, one thing is true – coaching and specialized sports related professions are a growth industry.
The growth of sports and increased competition for high quality, well trained sports professionals are driving a greater demand for people with coaching and related specialized skills, creating greater opportunity in both the numbers of positions and the salaries sports professionals are paid. This trend is also driving the need for people to educate themselves to be prepared to take advantage of these opportunities.
The sports profession is no different from any other profession in society. In order for a doctor to become trained in a certain area of expertise, he or she must attend an institution of higher education and receive a medical degree. Attorneys, engineers, pharmacists, and creative managers all have to be educated and develop specialized skills to become a part of their professions. Likewise, sports managers, sports coaches, athletic academic advisors, athletic finance directors, directors of athletic communication, sports psychologists, sports dieticians, sports security personnel and others have to be educated with a great degree of sophistication and specialization in these areas.
One of the world’s best sports orthopedic surgeons, Dr. James Andrews, did not become a leader at what he does without first receiving a medical degree, earning licensure, and completing a residency in an orthopedic setting. The sports profession is no different! One does not just step into the sports professions without intense training in his or her specialized area of employment.
Sports professionals can be found from the youth level to the professional level, and people are needed for these positions who have trained for their specific roles. This training includes education in sports management, sports marketing, sports security, strength and conditioning, sports psychology and sports coaching to name a few.
As the chair of sports coaching at the United States Sports Academy, I am encouraged to know that opportunities in coaching and sports-related professions are continuing to grow. Many youth programs, high schools, community colleges, major colleges, and professional sports organizations are looking for individuals willing to educate themselves in coaching and sports-related professions.
Like any other profession it takes time, focus, and dedication to your sport of expertise to teach it properly to players at all levels or to serve as an important support professional in your chosen area of sport. A great combination of education and “paying your dues” in the coaching profession to move from one level to the next can be the key to a rewarding career in sport. There are plenty of examples of major college and professional coaches in all sports who started as a high school coach and developed a network to catapult them into the position they currently hold.
Sport is a highly competitive field and there are no guarantees. However, like other professions, having the right combination of experience and a degree in sport will certainly enhance your chances of reaching your goal. As one of the world’s leading educators of sports professionals, we at the United States Sports Academy welcome you to look at how our academic programs can prepare you for an exciting career in sport. Please visit us at www.ussa.edu.
By Dr. Bret Simmermacher
Dr. Bret Simmermacher is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the United States Sports Academy, where he earned his Doctor of Sport Management degree. He is a former college and professional baseball player and a multi-sport coach at the high school and college level.